Always wear a life jacket or PFD (personal flotation device). The majority of drowning victims as the result of boating accidents were found not to be wearing a Life jacket. Make sure that your family and friends aren't part of this statistic by assigning and fitting each member of your on board team with a Life jacket-prior to departure. Life jackets and PFDs have come a long way. Inflatable types and a wider range of colors and styles make it easier for you to find and wear the one that's right for you.
Avoid Alcohol The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved, and studies have also shown that the affect of alcohol is exacerbated by external effects such as sun and wind. Don't drink and drive your boat!
Check the weather forecast before heading out. Always check local weather conditions for boating safety before departure- TV and radio forecasts can be a good source of information. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds, or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water.
Use common sense and operate responsibly. One of the most important parts of boating safety is to use your common sense. This means operating at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Be alert at all times, and steer clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Also be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids, all of which have been placed there for one reason only- to ensure your own boating safety
Learn to swim. If you're going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety means knowing how to swim. Local organizations such as the American Red Cross and others offer training for all ages and abilities- check to see what classes are offered in your area!
Never stand up in your small powerboat, canoe, or similar watercraft. Numerous drownings occur when fishermen stand up to urinate over the side of a boat.
Take a boating safety course. Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need be familiar with boating safety rules of operation. Boater education requirements vary by state- some require validated completion of at least one boating safety course. Regardless of your individual state's requirements, it's always important to be educated, aware and prepared for every circumstance that might arise. (http://www.boaterexam.com)
Don't overload your boat. Avoid capsizing by following the load restrictions of your craft. This includes not only the number of passengers, but also the weight of your gear.
Follow the rules of the waterways. Be courteous of others using the waterways and obey all boating rules. Be watchful of swimmers and other boaters, and always have a spotter for water-skiers and tube riders